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My thoughts on Contador and race radios

By:
Tejay van Garderen
Published:
March 30, 2011, 21:57,
Updated:
March 31, 2011, 06:09

Race radios and Alberto Contador's case punctuate my racing break

Tejay Van Garderen sets tempo for HTC-Highroad teammate Tony Martin.

Tejay Van Garderen sets tempo for HTC-Highroad teammate Tony Martin.

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You want my answer to more exciting bike racing? More exciting courses. Plain and simple. The night time TTT in the Vuelta; cobbled stage at the Tour de France and Thousand Oaks in Tour of California. These races were awesome, exciting, and raced WITH radios. Give us more of those kinds of days, and we'll give you more exciting bike racing.

I'm sure my colleagues will hate me for saying that. After all, we like what you consider 'boring' days. Those are the days we get a break from all the stress, just getting sucked along in the draft on the flat roads. For as hard as we train outside of racing we love nothing more than to go easy during a race. The yellow jersey yelling 'pee break' is music to our ears. However, I will agree with you in saying those days make for boring television.

Now I'm not saying send us on death marches purely for the hope of seeing crashes. If that ends up being the case we will have no problem banding together and showing you the most boring race you've seen, like in the Giro 2009 and the Tour 2010 when the riders protested and rode easy because of unsafe courses.

We cyclists love a good chance to band together. I myself was a proud participant of the Mallorca standoff earlier this year. I was so proud of how unified we were. I even tried getting a little Twisted Sister chant going of 'we're not gonna take it'. Sadly no one joined me, but it would have been cool. Bottom line is we are sportsmen, not stuntmen. If you are watching cycling only in hope of seeing crashes, then I would kindly ask to turn your attention away from cycling and towards monster trucks, or something.

You guys want to see breakaways succeed? Put in more 'medium mountain' days. Riders tend to hate those days because they are so unpredictable. But it’s that unpredictability that saw Sylvain Chavanel take back yellow in the Tour last year; Lance Armstrong going for the stage win; Vino holding off the sprinters to the line and Haussler winning solo in the rain. All of which were exciting days, and all raced with radios.

Something else I've always wondered is why the cameras only start filming with 100km to go. If you want to catch the exciting parts of a race you need to film the first 50km and the last 50km, leave out the middle 50-100 boring kms. People only tune into bike races after the break is established. Then all they see are time gaps and they have no idea how or why THAT break got away.

And it’s that how or why that made it an exciting bike race, only you didn't get to see it. It's always my biggest pet-peeve when I lose GC hopes and my friends tell me 'you should just go in a breakaway'. They have no idea how hard it is to get into one of those damn things. Then once you're there you need to ride in the wind all day. Getting into breakaways sucks!

I'm going to go out on a limb and address the powers that be that govern our sport. Many of them, if they have raced, did so long before radios were introduced into cycling. So how do they know what's being said, or how they are being used? We've already raced without them for a good part of the season and nothing has changed, other than it taking a long time to change a flat (costing a lot of money to replace our carbon rims). In fact I don't think the UCI is even interested in how they are being used, having been so quick to shoot down the F1 idea of broadcasting the radio feed. Pat McQuaid did make a compelling argument however, I believe it was 'cycling is a story of people, and we want to keep it that way'. Can't argue with that logic. Anyways, if someone is going to be making a call on an issue such as this, I want it coming from a body or person with experience and expertise in the matter. Sorry, but at present that just isn’t happening at the UCI.

The Contador issue

A lot of people ask me my opinion on the Contador case. And to be quite honest, I have no idea what the answer is. All I can hope for is a speedy resolution, and I will respect whatever the result may be. I'm not one to hide my frustration when it comes to cheaters. The reason this is different isn't because it's a rider who’s won five Grand Tours, it's because 'what the hell is clenbuterol'? I've never heard if it before now, and the tainted meat thing scares me. I will admit, when I first heard about it my reaction was to tell Alberto to turn that pistol around at himself. However, that night at dinner I found myself opting for the fish rather than the steak. I also suspect this has at least partly contributed to Dave Zabriskie becoming a vegan. That and the fact that Dave is, well, Dave. Don't get me wrong, Dave and I are good friends, I really like the guy, but he's ridiculous at times nonetheless.

Furthermore there seems to be a lot of stories coming out in recent news about people being cleared for clenbuterol. So it’s just really hard to tell if these guys are getting away with murder, or I really should throw down the extra cash for the organic grass fed beef. So because I have no idea, I find its best to keep my mouth shut and leave it for the adults to decide, and for me to respect their decision.

Author
Tejay van Garderen

Follow American Tejay van Garderen's (HTC-Highroad) exclusive Cyclingnews blog

22-year-old van Garderen, had a stellar 2010 debut season in the ProTour ranks and finished third at the Dauhpine in June and coming in 35th place overall in his debut Grand Tour at the Vuelta a Espana.

In 2009 he finished second overall at the Tour de l'Avenir.

Van Garderen spent the 2008-2009 seasons racing for the Dutch Rabobank Continental team. Winner in 2009 of France's Tour du Haut Anjou and the final stage of the Netherlands' Olympia's Tour (plus second overall).

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